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Fluoride in Drinking Water: A Scientific Review of EPA’S Standards
fluoride supplementation and use of bottled water or home water purification systems rather than fluoridated municipal water. The NRC (1993) recommended further research to “determine and compare the intake of fluoride from all sources, including fluoride-containing dental products, in fluoridated and nonfluoridated communities.”
This chapter provides a review of the available information on fluoride exposures in the United States, including sources of fluoride exposure, intakes from various fluoride sources, and factors that could affect individual exposures to fluorides. Population subgroups with especially high exposures are discussed. The major emphasis of this chapter is on chronic exposure rather than acute exposure. The use of biomarkers as alternative approaches to estimation of actual individual exposures is also discussed.
In practice, most fluorine added to drinking water is in the form of fluosilicic acid (fluorosilicic acid, H2SiF6) or the sodium salt (sodium fluosilicate, Na2SiF6), collectively referred to as fluorosilicates (CDC 1993); for some smaller water systems, fluoride is added as sodium fluoride (NaF). Fluoride in toothpaste and other dental products is usually present as sodium fluoride (NaF), stannous fluoride (SnF2), or disodium monofluorophosphate (Na2PO3F). Fluorine-containing pesticides and pharmaceuticals also contribute to total fluorine exposures and are considered separately. Fluoride in food and drinking water usually is considered in terms of total fluorine content, assumed to be present entirely as fluoride ion (F−). Information on exposures to fluorosilicates and aluminofluorides is also included.
SOURCES OF FLUORIDE EXPOSURE
The major dietary source of fluoride for most people in the United States is fluoridated municipal (community) drinking water, including water consumed directly, food and beverages prepared at home or in restaurants from municipal drinking water, and commercial beverages and processed foods originating from fluoridated municipalities. On a mean per capita basis, community (public or municipal) water constitutes 75% of the total water ingested in the United States; bottled water constitutes 13%, and other sources (e.g., wells and cisterns) constitute 10% (EPA 2000a). Municipal water sources that are not considered “fluoridated” could contain low concentrations of naturally occurring fluoride, as could bottled water and private wells, depending on the sources.
An estimated 162 million people in the United States (65.8% of the population served by public water systems) received “optimally fluori-